Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers: #67 Santo Manzanillo

The series is back after what will be its longest hiatus. That’s what happens when a pair of top prospects drafted seven months ago get invites to Spring Training and are subsequently assigned jersey numbers in the high seventies.

Today, however, we take a look at the first of a handful of players who were added to the 40-man roster this offseason.

On this Monday, 67 days away from Opening Day on April 6th in Milwaukee, Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles right-handed pitching prospect Santo Manzanillo.

Santo ManzanilloThere are hard throwers all over the minor leagues. Many prospects can hit 95 MPH on the radar gun but not all of them can push it up to 99 like Santo Manzanillo was able to do quite frequently throughout the 2011 season.

Manzanillo has been known for a his velocity for some time but velocity alone doesn’t mean a whole lot in terms of projectable success. Hard and straight will still get crushed more often than not. His control has improved a bit and he does possess a breaking ball that keeps hitters honest.

This past season definitely saw positive strides forward for the Dominican Republic native. This off-season, however, saw both a bit of faith instilled in the righty along with a bit of bad luck befalling the closing prospect.

First the good. In advance of the Rule V Draft, Manzanillo was placed on the Brewers’ 40-man roster, thereby protecting him from exposure in that draft process. With the strides Manzanillo made in 2011, he clearly put himself in the forefront of the decision makers’ plan.

But then potential disaster struck when Manzanillo injured his right shoulder in an automobile accident. Manzanillo was hit by a truck while driving his Hummer on a highway in the Dominican Republic. He sprained the shoulder and also suffered multiple lacerations and contusions.

There is definitely a chance his injuries could impact his availability for at least a significant portion of the 2012 season. It would truly be a shame if Manzanillo’s career is derailed, although that is unlikely.

What would be nice is to see him have a chance to improve upon a season that saw the right-hander post an impressive 1.75 ERA and 62/26 K/BB ratio over 61 2/3 IP (all in relief) between High-A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville.

High-ceiling pitching prospects that project directly to the back end of the bullpen sometimes fizzle out as they move up the ladder. After all, many bullpen spots are filled by men who can’t sustain success long enough in a given game to start. Manzanillo, however, has been almost exclusively a relief pitcher throughout his minor league career.

More definitely needs to be seen from Manzanillo to really predict where he’ll end up. Part of the problem lies in some of Manzanillo’s supporting statistics.

While he did, for example, amass a 2.21 ERA in 20.1 IP at Double-A Huntsville, it can’t be ignored that he held opponents to a BABIP of .212 all the while, as you might expect, he saw worsening marks in the K/9, BB/9 and HR/9. His FIP checked in at 4.53 as well.

Granted, 20.1 IP isn’t much of a sample size to work with but the numbers are still potentially indicative. This is exactly why seeing more of out Manzanillo was to no doubt be high on Doug Melvin’s wish list.

As with so many things in the game of baseball, however, you simply can’t predict accidents like the one that injured Manzanillo.

At this point we simply must wait for him to be medically cleared to see where he goes from where he finished 2011.

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